Being a person with some strong Aspie traits, I just don’t handle stressful situations well. Fortunately, I don’t totally lose it as the word meltdown infers but I quit acting like an adult and instead am a panicked kid. In autism studies, these episodes are called meltdowns so I will call them that for the purposes of this post.
One of my most prominent stressors is criticism. I am plainly oversensitive. I often perceive my wife’s criticism as calling me a complete idiot. When those situations occur I frequently go into at least some level of meltdown. I start shouting back about how she doesn’t think I can flush a toilet without screwing it up! Usually, when the episode is over I can evaluate what happened with a more adult view but that doesn’t ameliorate the damage done to both of us by these episodes.
From the studies I have read I know that over time, these types of situations alienate friends and peers. They have also caused marriage problems and even divorce.
My meltdowns for sensory episodes are less frequent as I just don’t allow myself to get caught up in them. Instead, I either avoid the causes or quickly flee the situation. I don’t like crowds and especially people standing behind me. For that reason, I often shop in the off-hours. My photography helps with crowds. I tell myself I am there to document the event and therefore manage to control my uneasiness more easily.
I know the severity of my personal meltdowns is much less than others on the spectrum. I am grateful for that and sympathetic to others who are worse than I.